With COVID-19 shutdown, Pennsylvania casino revenue down 22% in 2020

COVID-19 meant no sports to wager on and no casinos to gamble in for most of 2020, leading to a large drop in gaming revenue in Pennsylvania last year.

According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, casino closure days totaled 1,473 in 2020, or 33% of the number of days the 13 casinos would have been operating in a normal year.

That led to 22.24% drop in gaming revenues in 2020.

The combined revenue of slot machine, table games, sports wagering, online, video gaming terminals and fantasy contests totaled $2.65 billion in 2020 compared to $3.41 billion in 2019.

However, with people stuck at home, the shutdown did lead to a boom in online gaming.

Internet gaming revenue in Pennsylvania for 2020 was $565.8 million for the year, up drastically from the $33.6 million in internet gaming in 2019 – the first year online gambling was allowed in the state.

Wind Creek had a more than 47% decline in slots revenue, taking in $150.8 million in 2020 compared to $284.9 million in 2019.

The Bethlehem casino’s table game revenue for the year was down more than 56% at $104 million, down from $237.2 million in 2019.

Wind Creek was closed for 122 days during 2020.

In Mount Pocono, Mount Airy Casino resort took in $103.1 million in slot revenue in 2020, down 28% from the $144 million it took in during 2019.

Table game revenue there was $27.6 million in 2020, down 27% from the $38.1 million it took in during 2019.

Mount Airy was closed for 116 days.

Most major sports were shut down for a number of months during the peak of the pandemic in 2020, but as a new source of gaming revenue, casinos that offered sports wagering did see an increase in revenue, with wagering only available during the final months of 2019.

Overall, the state’s casinos that had sportsbooks took in $189.7 million in sports wagering revenue, much lower than the numbers that were expected if the regular sports schedule had taken place.

Mount Airy Casino resort had a jump of 371.6 percent taking in $10.6 million in sports wagering revenue for 2020.

Wind Creek did not have sports wagering until the end of 2020.

Wind Creek sportsbook goes online

After opening its bricks-and-mortar sportsbook last month, Wind Creek, Bethlehem has launched online sports betting.

With the new online sports betting, anyone physically located in Pennsylvania can place sports wages through Wind Creek’s online platforms online and with mobile apps.

The online sportsbook is being offered in partnership with Betfred USA Sports.

“Launching the online Sportsbook provides a dynamic element to our online gaming experience that enables our Guests to engage with us and play from anywhere they like while in PA without requiring any travelling,” said Ken Rohman, chief marketing officer for Wind Creek Hospitality. “We are proud to add online sports betting to the Wind Creek Casino online portfolio, and close out 2020 with yet another offering for our valued Guests.”

The retail location of the sportsbook, which opened last month in the space formerly occupied by Buddy V’s Ristorante, is currently closed because of COVID-19 restrictions through Jan. 4.

Wind Creek opens sportsbook in former Buddy V’s space

The new Wind Creek sportsbook is located in the space that was formerly Buddy V’s ristorante. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –


Wind Creek Bethlehem now has sports betting.

Wind Creek Hospitality, which runs the casino, and Betfred USA Sports today announced the state’s newest sportsbook has officially opened.

The Bethlehem sportsbook is Wind Creek’s first in the United States.

The Wind Creek sportsbook is located in the space that was formerly Buddy V’s ristorante. It features two state-of-the-art video walls, 31 individual TVs, three betting windows and eight self-service betting kiosks.

For those looking to hang out and enjoy the game they’re betting on, the sportsbook has multiple viewing areas and a sports pub for food and drinks.

“Opening the Sportsbook at Wind Creek Bethlehem provides yet another exciting gaming opportunity for our Guests,” said Jay Dorris, president & CEO of Wind Creek Hospitality. “Partnering with Betfred USA Sports will allow us to bring a first-class sports betting experience in a high energy environment to the property.

The sportsbook officially opened Nov. 18 after receiving approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

A grand opening for invited guests is planned for Nov. 21, a public grand opening celebration will be held in the coming weeks, officials said.

The opening comes as sports betting becomes a larger piece of Pennsylvania casino’s revenue picture. Of the $320.2 million the state’s casinos took in for October, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board reported that wagering made up $36.8 milion, more than 10% of the overall take.

The largest portion of revenue came from retail slots, which brought in $154.7 million, and retail table games, which brought in $63.3 million.

October marked the second anniversary of the launch of sports betting in the state.

In all, $525.8 million in sports bets were made statewide, breaking the all-time record.

$50 on the shark? Gamblers getting creative with no sports to bet on

With few traditional sports to bet on, sportsbooks are offering odds on such unusual things as the migration pattern of sharks. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES 


While there were still virtually no sports to bet on because of COVID-19 shutdowns in May, Pennsylvania’s nascent sportsbook industry did see an increase in bets over April.

The Pennsylvania gaming control board reported that online sportsbooks generated $77.5 million in wagers in May, up more than 68% over April, which saw only $46 million in wagers.

According the gaming analyst PlayPennsylvania.com much of the betting was on NASCAR, which began racing last month, European Soccer League games and some futures betting on football and basketball.

There are also some more obscure sports gamblers can place wagers on such as South Korean baseball.

An online website MyBookie is also launching wagering on the migration pattern of sharks.

Gamblers can watch the migration on line and at ocenrch.com and will be able to wager on an assortment of odds pertaining to the specific migration patterns of individual great white sharks.

After being tagged with a tracker, sharks ping on Ocearch when they come to the surface. Based on these pings, MyBookie will offer gamblers a variety of ways to place bets, such as how far a shark will travel between pings, whether a shark will enter a certain body of water, and what date a shark will ping next.

“Over the past few months – because most major sports are shuttered because of COVID-19 – we’ve had to be creative when it comes to providing our users with something to wager on. We’ve offered odds on everything from pro table tennis to simulated NFL games to politicians (who would secure the Democratic Presidential nomination) to various stock indexes (an over-under on the S&P 500) to pop culture (who would play the Penguin role in the next Batman movie),” said David Strauss of MyBookie.

Of course that doesn’t make up for the betting that would occur on traditionally popular sports.

“A normal menu of sports would likely mean an almost instant recovery for online sportsbooks, though we may still be a few months from that happening,” said Valerie Cross, analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “Pennsylvania’s online sportsbooks have been savvy in keeping their customers engaged with sports well outside the mainstream. That will only help when things begin to return to normal.”

While sportsbooks are off, Cross said online casinos – also relatively new to Pennsylvania – are gaining momentum with bricks-and-mortar casinos shuttered since mid-March.

Cross said online casinos and poker rooms set a new record with $55.9 million in gross revenue, up 29.7% from $43.1 million in April and nearly triple the $19.5 million they too in for February. That comes from a total of $1.8 billion was bet on online table games and slots in May, up from $1.4 billion in April.

While that sounds like good news, and certainly gives a leg up to the new online gaming offerings, it should be noted the state’s casinos still missed out on the $286.1 million land-based casinos generated in May 2019.


Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks wagering drops, while online casinos surge

With virtually all sports being shut down since mid-March by the COVID-19 pandemic, Pennsylvania’s sportsbook industry had another dismal month in April, while online casinos have experienced a bit of a surge.

The state’s sportsbooks took just $46 million in online bets during April, about $300 million less than analysts predicted before the virus hit, said Dustin Gouker, analyst for PlayPennsylvania.

“The growth in online gambling as well as betting on non-traditional sports are industry bright spots,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “But there just isn’t any way for Pennsylvania operators to compensate for such a dramatic loss of revenue, including at retail sportsbooks and land-based casinos, that can’t generate a single dollar right now.”

In a previous interview, he noted that what little betting has been going on since the pandemic hit has been futures, with bets on such things as who will win the 2021 Super Bowl and a few games that have occurred in other counties, such as South Korea, which has been holding crowd-less baseball games.

With most sports still on hold, he said, it doesn’t look like the industry will be rebounding anytime soon.

But with the bricks and mortar casinos closed people with an itch to gamble found their way to online casinos, which have been trending up. Online casinos and poker rooms brought in $43.1 million in revenue last month, up 77.4% from the record $24.3 million in March, and 121% over February’s $19.5 million.

Online table games and slots generated $1.4 billion in wagers in April, up from $871.6 million in March.


Pennsylvania reported highest sportsbook revenue in January

Pennsylvania’s sportsbook industry continues to grow with January reporting the highest revenue so far.

According to the state Gaming Control Board, bets made online or in casinos produced $31.6 million in gross revenue in January. That was up from $17.5 million in December.

All totaled, Pennsylvania generated $116.4 million in gross revenue from sports betting since the first sportsbooks launched in November 2018.

PlayUSA.com, which tracks legal gambling in the United States, said Pennsylvania is the third highest sportsbook market in the country after Nevada and New Jersey.

“Pennsylvania’s momentum is growing, and January shows that the state’s sportsbooks can sustain it even as the NFL season winds down,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com, the Pennsylvania branch of PlayUsa. “Pennsylvania will likely remain the nation’s No. 3 market for the foreseeable future. But it is becoming clearer that it will one day challenge Nevada and New Jersey as the largest legal sports betting market in the U.S.”

As for money wagered, Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks accepted a record $348.4 million in wagers in January, breaking the $342.6 million record set in December up dramatically from $32 million in January of last year.

Once again, online sports betting drew in the most money. $308.6 million, or 88.6%, of the state’s January wagers were made online.

Bethlehem’s Wind Creek signs agreement for sportsbook

Wind Creek President/CEO Jay Dorris speaks to the crowd at the grand opening celebration of Wind Creek Bethlehem’s rebranding last year. (File photo by Brian Pedersen) –

One of the last casinos in the state without a sportsbook is now getting on board.

Wind Creek Casino & Resort Bethlehem has signed an agreement with a UK-based bookmaker to operate a sportsbook for the South Side Bethlehem casino.

Betfred, which bills itself as the world’s largest privately-owned retail bookmaker, would provide retail sports betting in the casino as well as run Wind Creek’s mobile and internet betting within Pennsylvania. James Dorris, Wind Creek Hospitality President & CEO said Wind Creek chose Betfred because of its experience.

“Betfred have been providing sports betting in the UK for over 50 years,” noted Mark Stebbings, Betfred Group COO. “We are delighted to partner with Wind Creek Bethlehem where we will share our joint expertise. As part of our partnership we will provide excellent service and value for the sports bettors both on premise at Wind Creek Bethlehem and online to the wider population of Pennsylvania.”

Wind Creek Hospitality is an authority of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. It purchased the former Sands Casino last year. At the time it said it was still weighing its options on opening a sportsbook at the casino, but it was considering it.

Currently 10 of the state’s 12 casinos have retail sports books and eight offer online betting.

Lady Luck Casino, a smaller casino in western Pennsylvania, is the only other casino without an in-house sports betting area.

The deal is still subject to regulatory approval.

Mount Airy hosts ribbon cutting for sportsbook

From left: Chris Barrett, president/CEO, Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau; Glenn Cademartori vice president of marketing, Mt. Airy Casino Resort; Dennis Asselta, executive director of table games, Mt. Airy Casino Resort; Lisa DeNaples, owner & managing trustee, Mt. Airy Casino Resort; Brian Miller executive director of casino finance, Mt. Airy Casino Resort; Todd Greenberg COO/general manager, Mt. Airy Casino Resort; Rich Whitby, executive director of slots, Mt. Airy Casino Resort and Kristine Bush, district director to State Sen. Mario Scavello. –


Mount Airy Casino Resort in Mount Pocono has officially cut the ribbon on its new retail sportsbook.

The sportsbook had a soft opening last month.

The private 3,800-square-foot area is located just off the casino floor with space for about 75 people.

The sportsbook features 50 televisions for sports viewing, a luxury lounge and a 12-table poker room.

The casino has 20 employees working the sportsbook.

The ribbon cutting comes on the heels of the launch of the casino’s online gaming offerings, which launched earlier this week.

The resort launched the partnership with Fox Bet, which will allow in-state residents to make sports wagers and PokerStars, a gaming platform, to have online poker and other gaming options such as slots, roulette and black jack.

Mount Airy’s Sportsbook will have its official public launch event Saturday. The resort will be giving away sportsbook t-shirts and hosting food and beer specials.